or “Do I Dare Blog About My Classwork, Re-mix the Content for Blog Posts, or Share Syllabus with Fellow Classmates?” That’s the question I have too. Kyle beat me to it -but I still may follow up in another post. My points below touch on this through the Browser choice question I framed. (Thanks Kyle).
Chrome is impressive. The browser loads fast; this, I like. Tab-browsing, now a ubiquitous, expected feature, receives a new twist with Chrome. Chrome gives each tab its own process. Think about it this way: each tab is a different person, each person can be given a task. They do it completely on their own and then give you back the completed work. You don’t have to nag them or wait on them to finish. If you’re a power user, then you may truly appreciate how responsive this makes your browser. It frees the latency, stall, hang, and frustrating crashes that cripple other browsers. Browser-based apps seem faster too.
Chrome’s security issues -er, security flap aside. I see no point to the security issues. Any browsing you do can be hacked unless you are taking some seriously robust steps like IP-address masking, anonymous proxy, disposable virtual machine environments, random search requesting, and/or tunneling through a VPN that securely passes all your traffic. You would be surprised how transparent the information you pass really is. If a hacker really targets you with a man-in-the-middle attack, bummer. Fortunately, most of us are very very very small fish in very very very very big pond.
Alas, Chrome doesn’t have nearly features that I’ve come to rely upon in Firefox. I do significant portions of my work, school, and personal life online. (I know you’re probably not fretting over my social life. Just to let you know: I do get out into the real world. It’s tough out there. Often I just stay in when I’m not at Iaido or Aikido and watch Heroes).
- I use an add-on in Firefox that makes working with google docs really easy. I write nearly all my school discussion board posts in Google Docs -it auto saves. Blackboard does not. I actually made that noob mistake in the fall of 2006. Imagine this: you’re forced to use a system that does not save your work. And you get no warning to that fact. Not fun. And, if Firefox crashes I’ve actually been able to recover work.
- All my contacts go into highrisehq.com. Have you ever lost your contact data? Lost your cellphone? Ever not been able to get it into your desktop contact manager? Yes, I know I have to have internet access to get at my contacts. Paper is not perfect either. Highrise loads fast and I’ve made some hacks and tweaks for it in Firefox.
- I gain the “community of users” benefits because of the tweaks developed for gmail by Firefox users. So.many.good.ones. For tasks, they get pushed into rememberthemilk.com -I admit to forgetting my 2-3 discussion board postings a week. I set reminders now. None of my assignments are due on exactly the same day. I am often in gmail processing my tasks and I forward stuff about school all the time. Fast shortcuts when you have a lot to do coupled with extensions can save a lot.
- I have Firefox personalized for the work I do online. I share work I produce through slideshare.net, youtube.com, flickr.com, and delicious.com. We produce all this content in online classes. We lock it up in this system called Blackboard. Everything we do in my program is online: why are we not sharing our work with other emerging professionals in the field? Why not be networking with other library students at other schools? (I’d be happy to network with any of you. I’m a big believer in the power of our physical and electronic social networks). Or why not capitalize on massively distributed collaboration? What about the new forms of scholarship and honing our abilities to work online with our colleagues, all remotely. I’ve made some good friends at other library schools. I’ve become good friends with other emerging professionals in the field through social network contacts. They’ve taught me as much as I learned in my classes. In sharing ideas with them, I’m challenged to explain things more clearly. We have a vested interest in helping each other succeed. We take the time to truly give insightful feedback and commentary on each others’ work. Sometimes, we just share what we face in life. Often, I find receiving critical assessment from someone you have some degree of familiarity with removes the reflexive barriers we use to respond. It’s hard not to infer missing information sometime. Because of having personalized Firefox, I speed up all this work. It’s not just speed, the tasks are easier too.
- Little add-ons mean a lot. My immediate family members prefer e-mail to stay in touch. We live in 3 different states. To stay in touch with my friends and family members who live across the country, we make use of online tools to communicate. While I poked fun at the thought of being secure online, Firefox can be set-up in way that creates a higher level of personal security. This is important for a lot of people. Other browsers tend to lack add-on abilities to create a more secure browsing experience.
- Add to this all the other benefits I get with Firefox. I find library school to be an excellent prompt for blogging. From the ideas in class, I break down the writing I did. I look for pieces to connect to what other bloggers talk about. I’ve found other (library student) bloggers thinking about similar items in unique ways. If you’re not thinking on ways of how to get more out of your schooling, by using all these online tools, why not? It’s a great way to increase the plasticity of your mind while in school. (It may also help you prove what you put down on your resume too; listing off software you’re expert at isn’t going to cut it anymore). The extensions I run in Firefox make it easier to share when I’m tired and a bit behind at the end of the day.
Could I really do some of this in Chrome? Sure.
What do all these have to do with Firefox then? Personalization for the end user. For these tasks Firefox stands strong as a relatively stable browser with extensibility and personalization at the core. Firefox saves me that much time.
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” -George Bernard Shaw
When I add up all the time that it takes me to do each of these discrete activities. It doesn’t seem like much at first.
- Copy and paste here. Find link there.
- Chase down that piece of (mis)information.
- Strip the text of its formatting so it can be read.
- Pass along other relevant links to my friend who asked about “information drift”.
- Access the article. But strip the link of the proxy address and make it a tiny url so it does not break.
- open and convert that pdf without launching resource hogging Adobe Reader.
- Find that physical address. Map it. Send the directions.
- Track that package for my boss because it said it was delivered.
- Finish that Pecha Kucha PowerPoint and share the notes out.
- All while taking few phone calls and transferring a few files.
- And editing a group document.
- And recovering from a Windows crash.
- And giving some distant tech-support.
My days are not always that busy; yet some are. We wonder why we’re tired- yeesh.
“That’s all anecdotal Lee!” I hear that. How did I really figure out that customizing Firefox saves me a lot of time? It was easy. I counted minutes.
Often I work on multiple computers. I would be forced to use Internet Explorer. I could quickly see how much longer it was to complete tasks. With my FF mods, I could complete routine tasks in seconds. Minutes would pass with those same tasks on an unpersonalized browser. Add this up over a day and: 20 minutes of an hour I could save. Time saved equals less stress, more work output, and a general feeling of somehow managing an ever-increasing set of responsibilities in an ever-decreasing amount of minutes. Who isn’t being asked to do more, with less?
A large community of users that have adopted Firefox and developed add-ons or extensions for Firefox enables me to shave seconds. Seconds matter. While that doesn’t sound like a big deal at the end of the day, this can often add up to two hours straight. (It’s good I do things like Tai Chi and yoga I suppose).
Chrome has a lot of potential. No doubt about it. Yet, until it meets the level of usability Firefox achieves, I enjoyed the swift experience of testing it over the few weeks it’s been out.
Below is an extensive array, at least to me, of add-ons to make Firefox function in a way that increases my online productivity. Some of the deeper hacks and tweaks I made are a discussion for another day. But, I’d love to hear who else uses (x)-browser and how you’ve tweaked it. I’m always open to switching browsers.
Here’s my list of Firefox add-ons.
* Adblock Filterset.G Updater 0.3.1.3
* Adblock Plus 0.7.5.5
* Adblock Plus: Element Hiding Helper 1.0.5
* All-in-One Sidebar 0.7.6
* Better GCal 0.3
* Better GReader 0.4
* Better YouTube 0.4.3
* BetterCache 1.21
* BugMeNot 2.0
* Copy Plain Text 0.3.3
* Delicious Bookmarks 2.0.104
* DownloadHelper 3.2.2
* dragdropupload 1.6.8
* Flashblock 1.5.6
* Greasemonkey 0.8.20080609.0
* Mouse Gestures Redox 2.0.2
* MR Tech Toolkit (formerly Local Install) 6.0.1
* NoScript 1.8
* PDF Download 22.214.171.124
* PopupMaster 1.2.2
* Skype extension for Firefox 126.96.36.199
* Tab Mix Plus 0.3.7pre.080830
* Tiny Menu 1.4.9
* TinyUrl Creator 1.0.5